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Are terror attacks in Israel by Hamas part of Global Jihad 2.0?

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of Pakistan's Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Doha

The October 7 terror attack by Hamas on Israel not only highlighted the vulnerabilities of the Jewish state, but also revealed one of the main goals of Palestinian extremist group: the unification of all jihadist outfits under its banner and the systematic spread of radicalization among young Muslims around the world. Furthermore, the event helped bring the world’s attention to the real threat we are facing on account of an out-of-control radical Islam combining Wahhabi, Salafi and Deobandi ideologies. It is now the same agent provocateurs who are leading the mobs from San Francisco to Jakarta. The slogans “From the River to the Sea” and “Sar tan se Juda,” all originate from the same strategy room.

From the Houthis in Yemen to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Shiite militias in Iraq (such as the Sadrists and Badrists), Hamas is managing to unify and mobilize diverse Sunni and radicalized Shiite groups in the war against Israel. This is not a new occurrence. Rather, it is the culmination of over three or four years of planning and strategic implementation. There are state actors (Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Syria), non-state actors, lobbyists, NGO’s, community activities all who form a part of a larger puppet show that extremist Islam has put together. A new Jihad Inc. is taking birth, technologically and politically savvy and globally organized. The Hamas attack on Israel is part of its script, the spark that lit the barrel.

The reverberations are felt far beyond the Middle East. In Asia, and especially in South and Southeast Asia, governments and security leaders are deeply concerned about the growing radicalization of youth, the rise of Islamic violence, and domestic terrorist attacks against non-Islamic strategic targets. For India, which is just recovering from its own brand of “Islamic protests”, this is a double security jeopardy. On one end, in the shadows of Gaza, Pakistan is expelling 1.7 million refugees, some who have lived in Pakistan for decades, back into the hands of the Taliban, thus creating a security and humanitarian crisis.

On another end, young Muslims are getting riled by the Deobandi/Salafi Mosque networks and Muslim political parties to counter the establishment’s support for Israel. The Gandhis and the Indian National Congress have added fuel to fire–the opposition is using this incitement to score political points by supporting Hamas.

The Gandhi siblings do not remember for one moment that when India had its 26/11 and Mumbai was burning, it was Israel which stood behind India, with no questions asked. They were the government in Maharashtra and the center and had magnificently failed India’s security.

The Congress and a weak Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister were not only powerless to take control of the situation in Mumbai which saw the assassination of stalwarts like Vijay Salaskar and Hemanth Karkare, but there was no response after the attacks, strategic or otherwise. The perpetrators are still alive and well in Pakistan after gutting India’s commercial capital for over 3 days.

The Gandhi siblings now expect Israel to do the same, do nothing. Instead of standing against terrorism, the Congress is further inciting radicalized Muslim youth by supporting Gaza and Hamas, creating another internal security headache for the Modi government to deal with. On India’s eastern border the upcoming elections in Bangladesh also do not augur well for India. Potential victory of Islamic parties will not only increase risks of terrorist infiltration from Bangladesh but also weaponization of the Rohingya refugees, many of whom have nothing to lose.

In a globalized world with uncontrollable migratory flows, the big concern now is young, radicalized Muslim men traveling towards Europe and the United States. These illegal immigrants could be easily put into play by Islamic groups from the Middle East supported by the intelligence agencies of countries such as Iran and Pakistan, with the intent to strike cities and other strategic Western targets, a far darker and deadlier 9/11.

Although Islamic extremism is commonly associated with the Middle East, the top four countries by Islamic population are: Indonesia (231 million), Pakistan (240 million), India (200 million), Bangladesh (population 150 million), all located in Asia.

While Indonesia and India remain secular nations engaged in the daily fight against extremism and domestic terrorism, Pakistan and Bangladesh are Islamic republics that have extremist Islamic political parties and related militias that are part of the political fabric of the country. These parties support, promote and, consequently, finance Islamic terrorism. There is no shortage of funding sources from the Persian Gulf and other wealthy Islamic countries, helping to support madrassas, mosques, and extremist Islamic education. The rise of Asian terrorism in Europe is now apparent, it is now supported by the European left, young feminists, LGBTQ+ activities who have been groomed by Islamic “activists” under the banner of “Palestinian liberation”.

In this context, it is a matter of serious concern that three Bangladeshi nationals residing in Italy were investigated for terrorism-related activities last week. One of them who was arrested is a 21-year-old who worked for a company which sub-contracts for Fincantieri, a major defense manufacturer in Italy.

Pakistan and Bangladesh, although not currently involved in internal conflicts or wars, continue to be significant sources of immigration to Europe. Both are democratic and Muslim-majority countries. The increased flow of immigrants, both legal and illegal, from these nations poses not only cultural challenges, but also integration issues for Europe.

Social and cultural problems undoubtedly represent a significant part of the challenges related to immigration, but the problem of security is certainly the most immediate and worrying. European security agencies do not have precise information on the degree of radicalization of many of the young men from Pakistan and Bangladesh who arrive at their shores. Even in cases where entry occurs legitimately, such as through sponsored work visas or family reunification, the issue of radicalization is beyond the control of Italian law enforcement.

Italy has faced problems related to Pakistani immigrants in the past, with cases of connections to terrorism. In 2022, 14 Pakistani citizens were arrested in Genoa on charges of being involved in an association with the aim of international terrorism. Just last week another 14 Pakistanis were arrested in Spain for terror activities, affiliated to the Teherik-e-Labbaik Pakistan.

Furthermore, there have been incidents of Pakistani illegal immigrants, allegedly under the direction of Iranian intelligence, attempting to attack Israeli tourists in Greece this summer. This now seems like a test conducted by Iranian and Pakistani intelligence agencies on weaponizing illegal migrants in Europe- a dark possibility of more deadly attacks to come.

Now, with the arrest of a Bangladeshi citizen, a phenomenon of Islamic terrorism is emerging in Italy. India, a border country with Pakistan and Bangladesh, has been facing this problem for decades, which Europe has ignored, welcoming these migrants, and defending them from deportation. Unlike India, Italy does not have the linguistic or cultural background to deal with this problem. Taking Italy as an example, at least 11% of illegal immigrants that have landed on Italian shores in 2023 are from Pakistan and Bangladesh, over 98% of which are men. Never has the specter of South Asian terror attacks been more real in Europe.

The pro-Palestine protests have conclusively proven that there is one hand which drives the strategy globally, which pays lobbyists, engages Congresswomen such as Cori Bush, Ilham Omar, Rashida Tlaib and other members of the “Squad” as its informally known. It is the same hand which has unified Palestinian “activists” and Kashmir “activists” essentially uniting Hamas/Islamic Jihad sympathizers with pro-Pakistan groups and their supporters in the west. Additionally, the same actor has had the ISI reignite the Khalistan flames in Canada. What is happening in Israel is just a prelude, a trailer, to what could happen in Europe and India.

In 2024 the United States, European Union, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine and possibly Israel will all have national elections. Islamic terrorism and extremism will play an important and essential role in the future of democracy in the world. It is important that the free world arrests the rise of the new Jihad Inc. to protect their republics and their way of life.

(Vas Shenoy is an Italian entrepreneur of Indian origin. He is the President of Associazione Sākshi, which works at encouraging Italy’s engagement with the Indian subcontinent and founder of Dialogue on Democracy. Views expressed are personal)

Also read: Why Iran may steer clear of joining the Israel-Hamas war